Parchment Paper vs Foil: Which is Better
There are some home cooks who are confused as to which between a parchment paper and aluminum foil to use in cooking. While there are more people who use parchment paper nowadays, one cannot deny the fact that foil still has many uses. Determining which of the two is better can be tricky. In this article, we shall shed light on the confusing world of foils and parchment papers. We’ll also look into the different foil and parchment paper uses to help you in your kitchen adventures.
More and more people today use parchment paper in their cooking. Unlike aluminum foil, however, its origins date back to ancient history. You may have already heard of ancient peoples writing on parchment. It predates the invention of the paper by the Chinese by at least a century. On the other hand, aluminum foil is a 20th century invention.
The ancient Turks developed parchment from the skins of animals like cow, goat, sheep, antelope, and pig. It was the most important tool for writing up to the 16th century. It fell out of favor with the widespread use of paper.
One has to recognize that the ancient parchment is more resilient, more heat-proof, more grease-proof, and more waterproof than paper. These qualities prompted people in the 19th century to experiment with paper and cloth. This resulted in the creation of the modern-day parchment. It is the direct ancestor of the parchment paper we use in cooking today.
The modern parchment paper contains a special coating of silicone. This chemical is what gives the modern parchment paper many of its remarkable characteristics. For starters, the silicone layer gives parchment paper its nonstick capabilities. Food will never stick to parchment paper. That is why many bakers use parchment in many of their recipes.
Parchment paper also has excellent heat-resistance. It can withstand high temperatures of up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. It is important to understand that heat-resistance does not equate to flame-resistance. Parchment paper may be able to tolerate high heat. However, it can still catch fire. The cut-off is 420°F. Any temperature higher than this can make the parchment catch fire. This helps answer the question, “does parchment paper burn?”
One of the advantages of parchment over foil is that it does not affect the flavor of the food you’re cooking it on or in. It also does not react to either salty or acidic food items. If you melt cheese, it will never stick to the parchment paper.
There are many parchment paper uses. You can line your bakeware with it or wrap foods with it. You can also use it to cover your dishes as you cook or reheat them in the microwave. It can also serve as an improvised pastry bag or a funnel. It can also absorb grease from your fried foods. They can also line the food items you place in the freezer.
As mentioned, aluminum foil is a 20th century invention. A Swiss company invented it in 1910, calling it the tinfoil. Some people today still call aluminum foil as tinfoil. Regardless of how you call it, foil has many properties that are very useful in the culinary world.
Many people use foil to make their cooking less messy. It also facilitates easier cleanup. The foil traps all the moisture in food so that they will not splatter in the oven, the grill, the stove, or anywhere else. This parchment paper substitute is also a great way to wrap sandwiches and other food items. Chefs who finish cooking their dishes in the oven often cover them with foil to keep the meat from drying out. The foil traps both the heat and the moisture so that the food will come out as moist and juicy as possible. Foil is also perfect for grilling and roasting.
There is one major problem with the use of foil. This is also the reason why many people today use parchment paper instead. According to a study published in the International Journal of Electrochemical Science, there is a chance that traces of aluminum can leach into the food items during cooking. Excessive amounts of aluminum can lead to a number of diseases, such as kidney disease and Alzheimer’s.
However, one also has to recognize that many of the modern cookware we have are made of aluminum. There are pots and pans made of aluminum. The can of soda also contains aluminum. There is also aluminum in antacids and aspirin, as well as shampoos and conditioners. Some lip balm and sunscreen products also contain aluminum.
There is also trace aluminum in the food that we eat. Examples of these include spinach, tea, and potatoes. Does this mean the amount of aluminum that leaches into the food is greater than the amount of aluminum that we unconsciously take every day? The fact of the matter is that you will get more aluminum from the food you are eating than from aluminum foil or any other aluminum cookware.
One also has to realize that parchment paper can be either bleached or unbleached. Bleached parchment paper has an additional coating of chemicals that can leach into your food. This can also pose a threat to your health, if we are to follow the logic applied to aluminum foil. The sad thing is that we do not have any idea as to what kind of ‘bleaching’ solution the manufacturer of the parchment paper used.
Applications in the Culinary World
Given that both parchment paper and foil have their respective pluses and minuses, let us try to look at their real-world applications. This will help give us a better idea as to which of these kitchen items is better.
- Oven-Roasting Veggies
Everything depends on the temperature of the oven. If you are roasting veggies up to 420 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can use parchment paper. Beyond 420 degrees, you will need a parchment paper substitute. In this case, aluminum foil works best. It is best to use a nonstick foil to prevent your veggies from sticking. Firm veggies like beets, carrots, corn, and potatoes are best wrapped in foil before sticking in the oven. This allows them to cook to tender perfection.
- Oven-Roasting Poultry
When oven-roasting turkey, chicken, or any poultry or meat, it is best to use heavy-duty foil. This will help keep the meat tender and juicy. It will never dry out. It is also perfect for tenting, allowing you to keep the moisture in your poultry. This results in a juicier meat.
Any food item that you are going to grill should always use heavy-duty foil. Steaks and burgers retain their juiciness if you wrap them in a tented foil. The secret to grilling food using foil is by leaving enough space to allow steam to vent. This will help make your grilled foods juicy.
- Oven-Cooking Fish
Parchment paper is best for steaming fish in the oven. On the other hand, broiling fish in the oven is best accomplished using nonstick foil. This helps prevent the fish from sticking in the foil, while also allowing you to broil the fish in high heat.
- Baking Cookies
You can use foil when baking cookies. However, the cookies will appear darker and will be more spread out. That is why it is best to use parchment paper when baking cookies. It allows your cookies to brown in an even manner. They also hold their shape quite well.
- Baking Brownies
This may come as a surprise to many. When baking brownies, it is best to use nonstick foil. The advantage of foil over parchment paper, in this case, is its malleability. You can mold the foil into any shape. You cannot do that with parchment paper.
- Baking Cake
Cakes have a smooth surface that adds to their overall appeal. If you use foil, there may be irregularities on the cake’s surface that can affect its final shape. This is where parchment paper can be very useful. You can also turn parchment paper into an instant icing contraption.
Which is Better?
It is easy to think that parchment paper is better than foil. It does not leach aluminum into your food. This is despite the fact that the amount of aluminum in the food that we eat may be greater than the amount that leaches from foil. There is also the question of chemicals leaching from bleached parchment paper. In this regard, both can pose issues to our health.
As for the tendency of food to stick to foil, one can always use a nonstick version. This will work in almost the same way as parchment paper. And then there is the question, ‘does parchment paper burn?’ Yes, it does. It is heat-resistant only up to a certain temperature. It can still catch fire.
When it comes to real-world application, parchment paper is best for delicate dishes and baked goods. Aluminum foil works best in cooking food over high heat. This includes grilling and broiling. Determining which between a foil and parchment paper is better depends on what you want to cook.
- Is Parchment Paper Flammable? – Culinary Lore
- Parchment Paper or Foil? The Ultimate Guide for Every Cooking Scenario – Real Simple